The Flexible Packaging Association (FPA) recently elected a new board chair and members, while later announcing a new co-leader for its Emerging Leadership Council (ELC).
William Jackson, Ph.D., chief technology officer of Amcor Flexibles, has been named to a two-year term as chair of FPA’s board of directors. Jackson says extended producer responsibility (EPR) remains one of the challenges facing the industry.
“The industry will need to work collaboratively so we can advance—at both the state and federal level—to create a standard and effective EPR scheme, with a focus on building infrastructure to recycle flexible packaging curbside,” Jackson says. “We also need to create more opportunities for FPA, brand owners, and legislators to exchange ideas and address goals for sustainability and materials of concern.”
Jackson adds that FPA has an important role to play to help stakeholders in the United States adopt and follow the Consumer Goods Forum’s Golden Design Rules or other similar guidelines that allow design-for-recyclability clarity.
“This will be critical to developing viable systems for collection and recycling of flexible packaging,” Jackson says. “I also believe that FPA can expand upon its position and guidance to address California [Senate Bill] 54 by preparing FAQs or other formal guidance, helping the industry to proactively protect and shape the future for flexible packaging in California and other states to follow.”
Other issues facing the industry include labor concerns for suppliers and brands and consumers’ sentiments about plastic, Jackson also says.
“Packaging suppliers must pragmatically address the role of packaging to meet operations, product, and channel requirements, while also optimizing brands’ needs to connect with their consumers and improve sustainability,” he says. “Increased governmental regulation for plastics is also causing alarm as rules put in place state by state can make it difficult for brands to meet requirements without disrupting their supply chains. The industry needs to show its value by providing safety and security in food and healthcare packaging while demonstrating credible progress to advance more sustainable packaging and factual recycling and reuse metrics.”
Jackson replaces Kathy Bolhous, CEO of Charter Next Generation, who served as chair from March 2021 to March 2023. Bolhous remains as the immediate past chair of the board. Guenther Hering, vice president of Flexible Packaging NA at Henkel Corporation, remains as treasurer.
Newly appointed directors, who serve one-year terms, include Evan Arnold, Glenroy, Inc.; Sean Bowie, Bryce Corporation; Ritika Kalia, Dow; Nicki Kerrigan, Flint Group; and David Nunes, Hosokawa Alpine American, Inc. FPA voting members cast ballots for the 2023 board, which comprises industry leaders from 35 flexible packaging companies, at the association’s Annual Meeting in March.
Jackson notes that the innovation curve of the past three decades has been on a steep climb toward more sustainable packaging.
“Even before end-of-life came into focus and organizations like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation developed industrywide pledges, downgauging and light-weighting were creating more responsible packaging solutions across all markets,” he says. “There will always be a role for packaging to drastically reduce food waste and ensure safety. But it’s in the last decade specifically that enormous progress toward end-of-life and recyclability has dominated innovation and what we previously had thought was impossible is now standard offering, such as high levels of recycled content or recycle ready films for fresh meat packaging.”
He expects similar growth ahead.
“I think that we’ll continue to see dramatic changes and more accessible recycling streams in the future,” Jackson adds.
New Co-Chair at ELC
FPA later reported that Kasie Fairbarn, a member of the chair’s advisory council, has been elected co-chair of the ELC. ELC’s mission is to establish a network of future leaders to drive issues and opportunities that have a long-term impact on the advancement of the U.S. flexible packaging industry, according to FPA.
Fairbarn, product sales manager of extrusion systems for Windmoeller & Hoelscher Corporation, succeeds Adrianne Tipton, senior vice president of innovation from Novolex. Jonathan Quinn, director of market development and sustainability at Pregis LLC, will continue to serve as the other co-chair.
“When you think of inspirational leaders, Kasie Fairbarn is one of the first names that comes to mind,” says Quinn, who also serves on the chair’s advisory council. “Her leadership will be fundamental to the future of not only the ELC but also the industry.”
Fairbarn says ELC allows flexible packaging’s future leaders to collaborate on major challenges facing the industry.
“I’m thrilled to support this group and maintain the excellent momentum that Adrianne and Jonathan have created,” Fairbarn says.
ELC Programs and Work
The ELC has four subcommittees: advocacy; education; recruitment & leadership development; and diversity, equity, & inclusion. One of ELC’s initiatives is to work with students in colleges and universities as they prepare entries in FPA’s annual Student Flexible Packaging Design Challenge.
Fairbarn says ELC’s summer internship program has also been successful. ELC members run the virtual program, which connects summer interns from FPA member companies with ELC mentors. This is the third summer, and the program involves various panel discussions.
“This year, we have 45 interns from 15 different companies,” Fairbarn says. “Nine ELC members, including myself, volunteered to lead five groups of interns through a variety of interactive sessions throughout the summer months. This program has proved to be one of the most rewarding products ELC has delivered as it goes into its third year.”
One of the biggest rewards was learning that one of the former interns returned to the flexible packaging industry for a full-time job.
“That’s our measure of success,” she adds.
For more information on ELC, visit here.
Thomas A. Barstow is senior editor of FlexPack VOICE®.